Poetry Module: Checking Out Me History 1 of 2

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John Agard the poet

Welcome to the poetry of John Agard

Agard was educated in his home country of Guyana in South America and now lives in Britain. He has a lot to say about his school days as you will see.

Today we will…..

  • Listen to and read the poem ” Checking out me History”
  • Consider why John Agard was motivated to write this poem
  • Carry out some research into an historical figure mentioned in the poem

You will need……

By the end of this blog you will…..

  • Have made a mind map about your own family and history if you wish to
  • Have read and understood “Checking out me History”
  • Completed some notes about the poem and research about an historical figure

Some starter questions to think about……you are invited to explore these questions if you wish to. Please feel free to move to the next section if you would rather look at the poem straight away.

John Agard writes about his “history”

1 What do you think he means when he says he is “ checking out” his history?

2 What is your family history and background? Where do you come from?

3 Does this interest you? Is it important to you?

Now listen to the poem “Checking Out me History”


  • What do you notice about the way he reads his poem?
  • Does it remind you of anything?
  • What was your reaction to it as you heard it?

Now watch another clip of John Agard talking about why he wrote this poem


Why do you think John Agard was unhappy the way he was taught history?

What is his overall view about the history he learnt in his school days?

Now read the poem yourself again.

In this poem Agard says that he was taught about the historical figures in List 1 but not the ones in List 2

List One– Agard was taught about these people

  • Napoleon
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Lord Nelson
  • Dick Whittington

List 2 Agard was not taught about these people

What is the significant difference between the two lists?

  • Choose one of the names from List 2 and find out about their achievements
  • Use the links to help you
  • Make some notes about them for future reference – why does Agard feel it is important to learn about them?

Now share the document you have been taking notes on with your teacher

Next time…………….

We will ” dig” deeper into the poem to improve your understanding

Watch out for Blog 2 Checking out Me History

In the meantime….. “ check out this link..”

John Agard reading his poem ” Half Caste”

He is amazing!